Six sophisticated restaurant-bars to visit in Barcelona

For an insider’s glimpse into the Spanish city’s exciting food and drinks scene, we’ve rounded up some of the best bars and cafes to hop between, all serving Estrella Damm, Barcelona’s beloved beer.

Published 6 Aug 2021, 17:40 BST
The hotspot of Plaça Reial is one of many areas in Barcelona that's home to an ...

The hotspot of Plaça Reial is one of many areas in Barcelona that's home to an array of bars and cafes. 

Photograph by Getty Images

It’s easy to lose yourself in Barcelona. All those hidden alleyways, buzzy plazas and twisting lanes framed in drifts of bougainvillaea. And figuring out where to pull up a pew for a few drinks and snacks can be even more perplexing. There are thousands of bars, restaurants, hole-in-the-wall kiosks and beachside drinking dens, rolling away from its sunny seafront. Some are spots of extreme refinement, where chefs are doing extraordinary things for the city's moneyed bourgeoisie, aligned with sustainable eating trends.

Others are unfussy, casual — though no less memorable — pitstops, dishing up terrific food in a feel-good atmosphere. As the lockdown gauntlet is raised, there are sure to be plenty more openings to discover, all adding extra oomph to the city’s culinary awakening. And the drink at the heart of it all? Estrella Damm, also known as the beer of Barcelona. The brand is dedicated to quenching the thirst of millions worldwide, as well as setting itself ambitious green initiatives, from replacing plastic rings with biodegradable cardboard to repurposing organic waste as animal feed. Estrella Damm established its own brewery in 1876 and its beer has been produced to the original recipe ever since, using 100% local and natural Mediterranean ingredients: barley malt, pearl rice and hops. It also has strong ties to the world of gastronomy and works closely with both UK and global chefs, as well as local household names like Ferran Adrià and Joan Roca. Here are six culinary hotspots not to miss on your next trip to the Catalan capital.

1. Petit Comitè

At the helm of this stylish and acclaimed restaurant, chef Carles Gaig prepares plates of precise and elevated Catalan dishes. Underpinning the menu is the devotion to local produce, plucked from land and sea — all of which is stamped with an original and creative take on traditional Catalan cooking. And the foodie thrills just keeping on coming with memorable dishes such as oca bread with duck liver and caramelized apples, fried eggs stuffed with bacon and steamed potatoes, grilled pineapple with caramelized honey and yogurt ice cream, and chocolate with oil and salt. All best washed down with a crisp Estrella. 

2. 1881 per Sagardi

There’s something remarkably cool about rising to the lofty heights of Barcelona’s rooftop bars — and this restaurant, lording itself over the History Museum of Catalonia, has an al fresco terrace offering one of the most sophisticated spaces in the city. Here, diners perch on tall white stools, nibbling on tapas and drinking glasses of Estrella while gazing towards the port and yachts bobbing on the horizon. As evening approaches, duck inside and grab a table where the culinary wizardry comes to the fore, from seafood-laden paellas to beef tenderloin with foie gras and just-caught razor clams, grilled over charcoal. 

Impressively, Estrella Damm has been brewed to the original recipe since 1876.

Photograph by Estrella Damm

3. L’Estupendu (Badalona)

Nudging the fringes of Barcelona is the mellow coastal hub of Badalona — a fun-times town that’s just off the radar for many tourists. Strung along the seafront are a clutch of beachside bars (chiringuitos) that get increasingly busy as the day drifts on with locals sipping Estrella and cocktails between dips in the sea. L’Estupendu is a cut above the average, flanked by lively crowds ordering plates of barbecued sea bass, grilled octopus and seared tuna with avocado mayo, though its paellas are legendary, piled high with prawns and briny mussels. 

4. El Mercader de l'Eixample

Underpinned by the slow food movement, this seasonally-led restaurant sits in the characterful district of Eixample — where tourists work up appetites in the shadow of the magnificent Sagrada Familia. This is a space that’s working towards a sustainable blueprint; the team in the open kitchen only use fish caught just down the coast, chicken nurtured in local farms and vegetables harvested in the restaurant’s very own kitchen garden in the Parque de Collserola. Our tip? Sit on the terrace and order an Estrella to kick your culinary journey off. 

5. Quillo

If you love being in the know, then you’ll fall a little bit in love with this unassuming spot, tucked away in the El Born district — a warren of narrow streets and cafe-strewn plazas, where locals spill out onto the pavements on long, languid evenings. Inside, dressed-down waiters whizz between tables and the kitchen, where the young team works at lightning speed to prepare classic tapas dishes that are a balance between Andalucian and Catalan cooking. There are sizzling plates of garlicky prawns, salty padron peppers and mounds of clams caught that morning, washed down with Estrella or excellent local wines. All this plus live flamenco and rumba on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with a rollicking atmosphere to boot.

6. Soho House Barcelona

This is another resplendent pad from the private members’ club-turned-hotel-group Soho House. It may be difficult to nab a table, but everything at this hotspot defies expectation. If you’re just here for a drink, head up in the lift and you’ll pop out on the sunny roof terrace, where bronzed guests dangle their feet in the pool and gaze out over the spires of the city. The chefs behind the scenes rustle up simple poke bowls, but come summer, barbecue dishes dominate the food menu, all washed down with an Estrella brought over by the obliging staff.

Read about how Estrella Damm is produced and its grain to bottle journey here.

For further information about Estrella Damm and its sustainability initiatives, visit the Estrella Damm website.

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